Memorial Day may bePthe unofficial start of summer, but it\’s so much more than an excuse for aPthree-day weekend. It\’s a U. S. holiday with a lot of history and lasting significance. Held annually on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War. Who exactly created it and where are unclear, but legend has it that the tradition began in 1864. That\’s when three women from, put flowers on the graves of loved ones who had died in the war, including a young manPkilledPin the Battle of Gettysburg. Related:P By 1865, people in states such as South Carolina and Mississippi were participating in unofficial ceremonies that preceded Memorial Day. But Waterloo, New York, claims to be the birthplace of the holiday, given that it held what Nelson Rockefeller
call the \”first, formal, complete, well-planned, village-wide observance of a day entirely dedicated to honoring the war dead,\” in 1866. The Civil War was the Phistory. From 1861 to 1865, the war killed roughlyP620,000 soldiers. About 51,000 people died in the Battle of Gettysburg alone.
The first national Memorial Day occurred in 1868, but it was called Decoration Day. During that year, May 30 was set aside for \”the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,\”PGeneral John Logan wrote at the time,. The name of the holiday was eventually changed, and its scope slowly widened to include all wars. PIn 1971, it was moved to the last Monday in May. These days, Memorial Day is celebrated with cookouts and parades, but Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 3 p. m. ThisP was established in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton, so people could \”remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all. \” The current president, Donald Trump, has already for this Monday. He is askingPthat flags be flown at half-staff until noon, and he is recognizingPthe 100-year anniversary of the U. S. entering World War I. \”Memorial Day is our nation\’s solemn reminder that freedom is never free.
It is a moment of collective reflection on the noble sacrifices of those who gave the last measure of devotion in service of our ideals and in the defense of our nation,\” he writes. \”On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights. \” Memorial Day isn\’t just a time for barbecues and family fun. It\’s also a holiday set aside to honor those who lost their lives in the service of their country. The origins of Memorial Day are in the years after the Civil War when the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers were adorned with flowers, flags and wreaths in what became known as Decoration Day. The first official Decoration Day occurred on May 5, 1862 when Gen. John Logan, leader of the Northern Civil War veterans, called for a national day of remembrance. It\’s said Logan chose May 30 as Decoration Day because it wasn\’t the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.
Gen. James Garfield delivered a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day. The holiday continued in many Northern states though Southern states continued to honor their dead on a different day. Decoration Day remained the name of the holiday until World War I when it was expanded to Memorial Day to reflect the more recent conflict. It continued to be celebrated on May 30 – spreading more to the South during World War I – but in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The act placed certain federal holidays on Mondays to allow for federal employees to enjoy a three-day weekend. The holidays moved to a Monday include: George Washington\’s birthday; Memorial Day; Columbus Day; Veterans Day; Labor Day; and later, Martin Luther King Jr. \’s birthday. The change placed Memorial Day on the final Monday in May. This year, that falls on May 30. Memorial Day is most often celebrated now with parades featuring veterans organizations and military personnel.